Qualified Pharmacists Can Now Immigrate to Australia Following Rule Changes

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​Pharmacists outside Australia can now begin a rewarding career in the country with prospects of permanent residence after three years of practice. Depending on the country of origin, candidates are required to fulfil several requirements, including a period of supervised practice.

There is a progressive shortage of pharmacists in Australia, paving the way for international pharmacists to immigrate and gain employment. Immigration remains one of the best ways for overseas pharmacists to seek better employment and achieve higher levels of practice.

Permanent residency is also a great enticement for immigrating pharmacists, and thanks to Australia’s 494 and 191 VISA subclasses, it’s now a possibility.

Read: Pharmacists are needed more now in the hospital than ever! How does a community pharmacist get their foot in the door?

The Immigration Process for Interested Pharmacists

1. Register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia

All practising pharmacists must register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia (AHPRA). You may also be required to complete an International Criminal History Check. The check will be done by an approved ICHC supplier and valid for three months from the issue date. Candidates cannot be registered until they have completed the check.

2. Apply for VISA subclass 494

The Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) 494 VISA is now available for Overseas Pharmacists to immigrate to Australia with a permanent residency pathway. For this, pharmacists need to find suitable employment with an employer that has approval from the Regional Certifying Body in the nominated area. Additionally, the following conditions must be met:

●      The employer must be in a designated regional area in Australia (not in Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne).

●      The position must be full-time and likely to be available for three years until the candidate applies for a 191 Visa for permanent residency.

●      Retail pharmacy must be on the occupation list, which it currently is.

Applicants must also be under 45 years of age, have at least three years of full-time and relevant work experience, and have a demonstrable English competence prior to lodgement (IELTS 6.0).

Steps 1 and 2 must be completed simultaneously, and success in one doesn’t guarantee success in the other.

Read: The challenges and solutions faced by rural pharmacies in a Covid-19 era

3. Pass the Australian Pharmacy Council Exam

The Australian Pharmacy Council will process applications as part of either the knowledge stream or competency stream. Candidates in the knowledge stream must complete an internship, following the procedures of an approved program.

The knowledge stream applies to candidates who completed their qualification in any country outside Australia, Canada, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, or the U.S.

The skill assessment structure involves passing the initial eligibility check and passing the Knowledge Assessment of Pharmaceutical Sciences (KAPS) exam. The eligibility test and exam cost AU$1,290 and AU$2,140, respectively.

The competency stream applies to candidates who completed their pharmacy qualification in Canada, Ireland, the UK, or the U.S. It also applies to candidates who are currently registered in one of these countries.

Competency stream candidates also need to pass an eligibility test and the Competency Assessment of Overseas Pharmacists (CAOP) Examination. The eligibility test and exam cost AU$1,290 and AU$1,870, respectively.

4. Complete a period of supervised practice

After fulfilling all the above conditions, candidates can proceed to complete their supervised practice in Australia with their new employer, who will provide a preceptor. On completion of 75% of the practice hours, candidates in both competency and knowledge stream can take a registration assessment directed by the Pharmacy Board. The assessment includes oral and/or written exams and will assess a candidate's knowledge of pharmacy law and ethics.

Upon completion of the required supervised practice hours, candidates can now obtain their general registration.

Read: Attracting (and keeping) Australia's rural health workers

The process for a permanent residency application

After fulfilling the above conditions, candidates can apply for a Skilled Regional 191 Permanent Residency VISA. Interested pharmacists can apply after three years, although the 494 VISA is valid for five years. Pharmacists do not need employer nominations to qualify. The VISA allows pharmacists to stay and work in Australia permanently. It also grants the power to sponsor relatives to Australia, and if eligible, apply for citizenship.

For employers

Raven’s Recruitment can help facilitate the immigration of an overseas pharmacist to Australia. We have access to an experienced migration agent that has worked with Pharmacist Immigration before that can help with your pharmacists’ application and immigration process. We are also positioned to solve your locum and permanent recruitment needs.

Read: Are you eligible to claim the Intern Incentive Allowance for Rural Pharmacies?

At Raven's Recruitment, we’ve been specialising in Pharmacist recruitment for a long time, so we have expert knowledge in the space. If you’re looking for an exciting opportunity to work as a locum pharmacist or want a permanent job, then look no further - get in touch with our Recruitment Consultants now.​​​​​